Motorists across California and the rest of the United States are increasingly choosing large SUVs over traditional passenger cars, and this is bad news for those who like to get around on foot. Studies show that SUVs pose more of a threat to pedestrians than sedans. This is concerning given the fact that SUV sales now account for the majority of all new vehicle sales.
J.D. Power reports that 70% of all new car sales currently involve SUVs. Back in 2009, SUVs only accounted for about 21% of all vehicle sales.
Car-on-pedestrian crashes currently cause about a fifth of all traffic fatalities across the United States. Over a recent 10-year span, the number of pedestrian fatalities resulting from crashes involving SUVs rose 53%. Why do SUVs pose such a danger to pedestrians?
The main issue is that SUVs have higher leading edges and front profiles than traditional passenger vehicles. This means that when they hit pedestrians, they are more likely to cause damage to major organs, rather than the pedestrian’s legs.
Studies show that speed also plays a role in SUV-on-pedestrian crashes and fatalities. When an SUV travels at 19 miles an hour, it is more likely to cause serious injuries upon striking a pedestrian than a smaller vehicle traveling at the same speed. When cars and SUVs travel 40 mph and strike pedestrians, pedestrians struck by SUVs die in 100% of instances. Pedestrians struck by smaller cars traveling at 40 mph lost their lives in 46% of cases.
Some automakers have taken action in recent years to modify their vehicles’ body styles to make them less of a threat to those traveling on foot. However, these changes have yet to have a notable impact on pedestrian death rates.